Study: Vitamin D deficiency possible predictor of aggressive prostate cancer

NEW YORK — Vitamin D deficiency could be a predictor for aggressive prostate cancer, according to a study funded by the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Department of Defense. In examining the prostate biopsy results of men with abnormal prostate-specific antigen levels and/or digital rectal exams, researchers discovered that men with low vitamin D levels were more likely to develop aggressive prostate cancer and to be diagnosed with advanced-stage tumors.

"The good news is that vitamin D deficiency is very easy to address," said David Samadi, chairman of urology and chief of robotic surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital. "If we look at low vitamin D as a potential biomarker for prostate cancer and add it to annual blood panels, we can identify men who need to boost their levels. Increasing vitamin D levels is easily accomplished through supplements and even good old fashioned sun exposure." 

Among the 600 Chicago-area study participants, African-American men with low vitamin D levels were almost five times more likely to have aggressive prostate cancer; European-American men with low levels were more than three times as likely. Both groups also showed increased odds of more advanced tumor staging at diagnosis; more than four times and nearly three times more likely for African-American and European-American men, respectively.

The vitamin D prostate cancer study was led by Northwestern Medicine and the University of Illinois at Chicago. Results were published in the May 1 Clinical Cancer Research journal by the American Association for Cancer Research.

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